Edgefield County, SC

County Name: 
Edgefield
State: 
South Carolina

Total population (1850): 39,262

Enslaved population (1850): 22,725

Percent slave: 58%

Extant nineteenth-century inquests: 524

Date range: 1829-1899

Percentage of violent crimes in county sample: 39% (202/524)

The small, rural district of Edgefield, South Carolina was the Deadwood of its day, amassing a reputation for murder and mayhem unique in the nation. Forget the gangs of New York, the toughs in tailored suits strutting about Edgefield's Court House Square were up for almost anything. Take this typical exchange between Thomas Cherry and Charles Cobb.

Cherry: "You Damn puppy."

Cobb: "What are you?"

Cherry: "Do you mean to call me a Damn puppy?"

Cobb: "What are you?"

Cherry: "If you call me a Puppy, I will ag you in the face."

Cobb: "You are nothing else."

With that Cherry stabbed Cobb through the face with an umbrella.

"If we over in Edgefield insult each other, there is generally a fight or a funeral afterwards."

"If we over in Edgefield insult each other, there is generally a fight or a funeral afterwards," noted Ben Tillman, one of the ten men of the district to serve the state as governor. Like Tillman, circuit judge Thomas Mackey took an almost perverse pride in the region's reputation. "I am going to hold court in Edgefield," he told a friend, "and I expect a somewhat exciting term, as the fall shooting is about to start."

Like most reputations, Edgefield's was at once deserved and exaggerated. At 39 percent, Edgefield County does have the highest proportion of violent crimes in the CSI:D sample. At 35 percent, Greenville County is not that far behind. More important, Edgefield's reputation for affairs of honor masks the mountain of dishonorable violence revealed by the morgue. Men spoiling for a fight on the street are rarely much different at home. In June 1893, Bill Gasten was sitting near his wood pile when his wife emerged from the house to draw some water from the well. Something she said set him off and he grabbed up a walking stick, hit her with it, then threw her down and began choking her. Emerging from the kitchen, her sister grabbed up the stick and told Bill to "let his wife alone." She had just started back to the kitchen when Bill cracked her head with a hoe.

Edgefield County, SC Inquests

Displaying 1 - 50 of 524
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Type Death Methodsort descending
Mary Grace Aldrich infant child August 11, 1856 at Graniteville Homicide
George Watkins October 10, 1866 at George Watkins Homicide
Esther Jeter April 17, 1893 at Huiets x Roads Accident
Selena Allen child, boy, baby December 12, 1890 at Mrs Blacks[?] Plantation Accident
Hartwell Roper June 17, 1869 at the residence of Rev. J.P. Mealing Natural Causes
Stepney negro man September 29, 1848 at the Swamp Platation of Wiley Glover, decd on Savannah River Suicide
Kenneth Martor[?] January 15, 1852 at Thomas Samar's[?] Mills on horse creek Accident
Dick male slave July 13, 1859 at Ted Scurrys residence Accident
Solomon Ellenberg February 18, 1859 near the Residence of G.M. Ouzts[?] Suicide
Doublin male slave, boy April 5, 1857 at the Residence of Mrs Delila Philips Natural Causes
Edmond Smallwood October 19, 1892 at E. C. Ridgells Plantation Natural Causes
Warren Kirkland November 16, 1858 at Benjamin Bartons Homicide
William Harlin February 19, 1856 at a new place sitting by Mr James Swearingem(Jr) on the Akien Road Accident
Ana May Blocker child December 2, 1894 at Ben Boatwrights farm Natural Causes
Charles M. Creswell August 5, 1869 at Edgefield CH Homicide
Enoch Douglass August 11, 1879 near Wesly Barrs on the rail road Accident
John McKinny September 26, 1894 at W P. Lipfords[?] Homicide
Charles negro boy November 14, 1842 On Mr Thos Oliver's Plantation, at or near Said Oliver's residence Accident
William Perry January 7, 1894 in the county and state aforesaid Accident
Henry slave, boy May 1, 1857 at Arthur Glovers House, Horns Creek Accident
John Rufus Russell October 10, 1884 at John L Russell House Accident
William Padgett February 22, 1894 at W.D. Readys plantation Homicide
Julia Mundy June 17, 1881 at Jas H Banknight Homicide
Patrick Burns[?] November 4, 1858 at the residence of Richard Campbell Natural Causes
Riller three negro children October 2, 1846 at the house of Philip Brogden Homicide
Cap Bryan February 25, 1893 at the plantation of Mrs Doziers Accident
Joseph Powel August 18, 1879 at [??] Accident
Alick Croker boy September 29, 1878 at Mrs. Marshes premises Accident
Will Collens October 20, 1894 at Gaines SC Homicide
Lindy Jones March 15, 1882 at George Holingsworth House Accident
Ras slave December 6, 1850 at D Dennys Mill Suicide
Joe Weston January 31, 1895 in Edgefield County Homicide
Thomas Rosseter[?] August 30, 1852 at Hamburg SC Accident
Joseph Shaw July 26, 1858 at the residence of John H Shaw near Edgefield C.H. Accident
Rebeca Eidson May 29, 1861 at the Residence of William Eidson Natural Causes
Rhoda female slave July 4, 1857 at Dorn's[?] Mill Natural Causes
Charles negro man February 27, 1850 at Scotts Shoals on Savannah River Accident
Emaline Jackson August 27, 1894 at Dr Childs Plantation Natural Causes
infant child infant child August 5, 1878 at the residence of H J Wright Homicide
Blanchy Wilson November 30, 1893 on the plantation of Robert Hastings Accident
Adam negro man Slave, boy August 3, 1850 at Vaucluse Factory Accident
Sallie Holmes December 20, 1893 at D. P. Bodies[?] Accident
John Young June 27, 1891 at the residence of John Young Accident
infant child infant child July 24, 1892 at Promised Land School house Unknown
infant child infant child September 15, 1861 at the residence of Mrs Margret Willis Accident
Lula Smith child June 22, 1894 at James A Satcher's Plantation Homicide
Lizza colered woman October 7, 1866 at the house of Thomas S. Miller Natural Causes
Lila Washington February 20, 1879 at Wesley Barns Mill Accident
Chaney negro woman December 11, 1855 at the dwelling house of Mrs Randall in the Town of Hamburg Natural Causes
Rose three negro children October 2, 1846 at the house of Philip Brogden Homicide

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